Understanding the Mormon God
Mormon’s often boast that our concept of a God with a body is more true than other religion’s concept of a God without a body. But I believe Joseph Smith introduced an amazingly pluralistic concept that actually reconciles monotheism and polytheism as well as the incorporeality and anthropomorphism of God; that earth’s God is just an exalted earth-man operating within a chain of higher eternal beings extending and existing infinitely. This concept is supported and explained in more detail in other restorationist movement texts such as Oahspe (see Chap 7 Book of Jehovah).
But few LDS members really think about the implications of this when it comes to understanding God or arguing with other religion’s concepts of God. Joseph Smiths revelations (Facsimile 2, D&C 132:17–20) and King Follet discourse suggests that “Christ” who is taking on rule of this planet is following in the footsteps of a “Father” who followed the same pattern and ruled before him. And that this “Father” also had a Father and so on, and so on. But the questions remain, “exactly which God or Gods relate to us”, “who was the first Father” and who is the “Most High God” or the “Eternal God of all other gods” as D&C 121:28–32 puts it? Here we run into the philosophical paradox of first cause and the realization that because of the principle of Divine Investiture of Authority, all “gods” take upon themselves the authority of the Most High God, but it is unknown whether anyone has physically “met” Him. Understanding the micro/macrocosm nature of the universe (see this article) or the “pattern in all things” spoken of in D&C 52:14, and following the succession of God taught by Joseph Smith to its logical conclusion, it seems evident that the “Most High God” must in a way be eternally distant and yet also omnipresent spirit, finitely embodied in all of us (especially his mediator gods), but in fullness comprising ALL THAT IS. These biblical verses make this clear; Jer. 23:23–24 | 1 Kings 8:27, Acts 17:24–28, John 4:24 | 1 Tim. 1:17 | 1 Tim. 6:16. LDS Scriptures such as D&C 88:6–13 also support this in saying,
“He is in all things and through all things” including being “in the sun [moon, & stars], and the light of the sun [moon & stars], and the power thereof by which [they were] made”.
Thus both Catholic, Christian and Eastern views of God are all true in Joseph’s cosmogony, but use different words to label the different echelons of beings (those who Hindus or who Joseph Smith label as gods inD&C 132, would be labeled as something like archangels by most Christians). So in light of this worldview the question we should be asking when comparing the gods mentioned in scripture is which “Father” was seen in the “visions” of Enoch, Moses or Joseph Smith and relates to us as earthlings, and what language does he speak? (ie. what kind of distortion of the message is occurring because of difficulties of framing Gods image & words into the language, culture and biases of the prophet). In these transcendental experiences is it the God/Father/Ruler of the House of Israel (ie. Abraham)? Is it the Father of just this Earth (ie. Adam)? Is it the God of Kolob or our small section of the Galaxy? Or of our entire Milky Way galaxy? (see the cosmology of Oahspe and the law of one for more info on this.) Of our supercluster? Our supercluster complex… ad infinitum?
Contemplating infinity, omniscience and omnipresence, I think it should be obvious that we just don’t know; but given the differences in global prophetic experiences it seems almost certain that each prophet uses his own language, culture and worldview to interpret what they envision. It is completely possible that in some cases, these appearances are subjective visions, where “God” is working from within the minds of the prophets themselves. And because of this it really shouldn’t matter so much exactly who was envisioned by Joseph Smith, Moses or ourselves anyway because we all relate to the level of beings in heaven of which we are best able to comprehend. And at the highest levels we are all connected and are all part of the ONE God (the idea of the trinity/godhead is trying to esoterically teach us this concept, the three are ONE). Man’s ideas of God are just like the mountain allegory. Each religion’s or person’s view of God is a partial distorted idea based on their limited perspective and are like the individual foothills in Jesus’ allegory on truth. An understanding of the Most High God includes an understanding of all limited perspectives fit into one great whole. This is part of what I believe was Christ’s first teaching to the Nephites in 3 Ne 11:27–32. He essentially says to his multi-denominational audience, “stop bickering over religious doctrine and gods”. “Don’t you see that my goal is to lead you to unification in the Father, and my doctrine is that you stop fighting and get along?!” Let’s switch back to the illustration of the mountain again and compare it with our understanding of and relationship to God. It is so silly for us all to be sitting on our own peaks in the foothills of eternity arguing over whose hill is the top of the mountain. None of them are. The top of the mountain is eternal, and so even though we are all on different lower extremities of the same mountain none of us fully understands the whole picture because the mountain is never ending. Christ’s teachings of unconditional love and acceptance of all people and all creation are of course the beginning to truly understanding the Most High God. That type of love is the Christ-principle that no man can come to the Father without. Christ tried to teach everyone the keys to love and unity in the principle that like numberless biological cells in a single body, we are all connected and thus part of God with statements like John 15:1–12 and John 17:11,21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us
Christ also tries to teach that by overcoming his selfish ego, and being fully conscious of his unity with ALL THAT IS, he is indeed a microcosmic division (son) of God the Father.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me (John 14:8–11).
Yet at the same time he tries to teach that the father is much bigger than us all with statements like “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28). Paul makes the same distinction when he says,
“who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (NIV 1 Tim. 6:16, see all translations)
Hidden in these types of scriptures are deeply esoteric teachings & understandings concerning the relationship between human unity, group consciousness and the faces/images of God as revealed by His messengers (those who are able to reach into the realm of spirit and put a face to the deepest spiritual needs, faith and yearnings of mankind & creation).
No One understands the true nature of God and no mortal’s understanding of God is exactly true. We know only our limited perspectives gained from the limited information we have on the limited ways He has revealed Himself to us. No prophet can see God as HE IS. A prophet can only see God according to his own perceptions. We don’t even really know each other and yet each religion thinks they “know” or have the correct understanding of God?
God calls prophets and has them organize religions to teach people about the nature of eternal beings, universal consciousness and reality; and to teach them about themselves. But how do you teach someone who you are with mere words or even repeated short visits? A person can’t explain themselves in words, pictures or even face-to-face conversation. Even living with someone 24/7 we can spend our whole lives really getting to know them; but because most people are so complex you can never properly depict them on canvas, or paper or stone. The problem with religions is that they are like a young infatuated lover who has just got a girlfriend and thinks he “knows” her and is in love with her. Well it doesn’t take long before the magic wears off and the person can see in retrospect that the person isn’t quite what they thought they were. Hopefully they realize that the person is better than they thought, but typically since “infatuation” is really love of self, they find that they were projecting their own hopes and “desires of self” onto their lover. There is good reason why God and Christ compare themselves to a husband and the Church or us to their young bride. God is trying to teach us something about our own psychology.
The God of Israel
God wanted Israel to come up to the mount with Moses and personally worship the “true” God (D&C 84:23–27); but they couldn’t comprehend Him, so they had Aaron build them an idol that they could worship. (They needed something beautiful, concrete, visible and agreeing with their notions of god!) Since it was obvious that’s all Israel couldn’t understand that “God” (just like everyone) is to be experienced with your heart not seen with your eyes, as a punishment/reward God appointed Aaron and His posterity as priest to teach people the nature of God. The problem is that Aaron didn’t know God either, so God helped Israel form a religion that was actually predominately a projection of their own ego. That was all they were capable of receiving at that point in their progression. At this point the “God of Abraham” also allowed the management of Israel to be maintained by a group of lower ruling heavenly beings (the lower or Aaronic priesthood- D&C 84:18–21,23–27). The free system of only two great affirmative commandments was replaced with the negative ten commandments, which the priests turned into hundreds of laws and eventually thousands. The priests were appointed to stand between Israel and God, and in a way, give them the idol that they wanted just like Aaron did (Ps. 81:10–12, Acts 7:38–48). They got a rigid religious system based on Egypt’s, a hierarchical priesthood with an elite priestly class based on the Midianites and they got the understanding of God they were ready for (a watered down gospel) which also essentially became egocentric. Those who, like Moses, knew there was more than “what was being taught” and sought for true messengers to teach him a gospel that couldn’t be etched in stone, wasn’t constrained to a temple hewn by man (Acts 17:24–25), and can only be transmitted and understood in the fleshy tablets of the heart got truth as they asked for it. But it was only relatively few, like Elijah, who ever graduated from the lower Aaronic system into the Melchizedekian system of statutory freedom and personal experience with the invisible God (Colossians 1:15–20). The rest press on under the schoolmasters (Gal 3:19,24–29), who are men led by men, led by exalted man-gods.